The Flash – Season 7 Episode 7

Apr 14, 2021 | Posted by in TV
Flash

“Growing Pains”

The Flash focuses on Frost when a killer emerges looking to frame her just as Kristen Kramer intensifies her efforts to bring Frost to justice.

One thing you’d be right to assume had been forgotten is that Frost was at one time a villain who plagued Team Flash in various ways. There are a list of crimes that she is undeniably guilty of largely cast aside because she was able to reform and tip the scales in her favour by helping people and saving the world. The CCPD quietly put aside their investigation but the charges against her were never officially dropped so this invites the arrival of Kristen Kramer to cause issues for Frost by being motivated to bring her to justice.

Flash

This will take some getting used to!

It could be argued that this was a necessary plot to cover but it could equally be argued that it wasn’t. The Flash frequently abandons plots that either aren’t working or don’t factor into the wider season narrative being told so Frost’s criminal status could have simply added to the list of forgotten plots and there would have been no real problems. Of course it does create a potentially interesting problem for her as she has recently gained her own sense of freedom by building a life for herself independent of Catilin and now having her own body she can use to live that life. Having something come in to threaten that newfound freedom makes sense as a struggle for her to work through.

In practice the plot plays out in a really meandering way. It starts with a murder with circumstantial evidence pointing in her direction prompting Team Flash to advise her to lay low while they sort it out. Of course she doesn’t lay low and goes to investigate herself and the plot plays out in the way that it does. Instead of being a meaningful exploration of Frost’s desire to keep the life she has built it’s largely a series of events that end with her uncovering the truth and defeating the villain rather than a character driven discovery leading her to conclude that she has to answer for her crimes. As has become common in this show, the episode fails to find the story it should be telling.

Part of what makes this plot suffer so much is the lack of focus on what Frost wants from life. She doesn’t want to be hunted and wants to takes steps to stop that from happening but there’s very little sense of what makes her life worth fighting for and there’s almost no time spent actually investigating the problem. She goes to a bar she used to work in during the time where Caitlin was struggling to suppress her and meets the villain immediately though doesn’t realise right away. Anyone who has watched TV before will know right away that Mark aka Chillblaine (Jon Kor) is the one behind it and there’s no attempt to even hide that. Their first interaction is notable in that there’s a clear attraction between them that is milked for everything it’s worth in a way that is increasingly awkward to watch. It did seem as if that attraction would build to something before Frost finds out that he’s the villain she’s looking for but it amounts to a long scene of her gawking at him while he’s shirtless and nothing else. Their second interaction before they fight where he outlines his backstory that explains his obsession with ice and his fixation with the former Killer Frost is incredibly clunky. Chillblaine fails to be an engaging villain or anything resembling a character so his impact on Frost’s development is very forced.

Flash

Seeing eye to eye about not seeing eye to eye

That’s not to say there is no merit to the journey Frost takes in this episode. Her reasoning for turning herself in actually works very well. Even though she’s innocent of what she is directly accused of in this episode she is still guilty of other things she is accused of and this experience helps her realise that. Team Flash remind her of how she has changed and everything she has done to make up for her past but the fact remains that she has never answered for those crimes and she decides that it’s time she did. This comes after Caitlin is accused of being Killer Frost and arrested based on this accusation. It ends up being a brief complication because it’s easy to prove that they aren’t one in the same thanks to recent developments but it’s enough for Frost to realise that she can’t accept Caitlin being put under scrutiny for things that she did. It takes some doing for her to get there and she starts by looking to break Caitlin out of CCPD custody even though it would only make the situation worse. Once she realises that it eventually leads her to conclude that protecting Caitlin means answering for those crimes. It’s also important for her own conscience to make sure she atones for the mistakes she made so it all feeds into her giving herself up.

What this means for Frost following this development is unknown but for now it’s left as her fate being entirely in the hands of a Judge. It remains to be seen whether this will provide engaging content in the coming episodes but on the surface sidestepping a trial removes the possibility of Frost being placed under direct scrutiny and being forced to deliver an account of herself. Perhaps she can still do this in front of a Judge or it could be that she gets sent to prison and the focus shifts to Caitlin until that finishes playing out. Time will tell but the lack of a trial would seem to be a storytelling mistake based on the available information.

Running alongside this is Kristen Kramer’s pursuit of Frost and a brief attempt at commentary on the purity of law enforcement. Joe maintains his role as the moral centre of the show passing comment on Kramer’s methods being counter to how things are supposed to work. This is specifically in response to Kramer accusing Caitlin of being Frost with very little hard evidence. Joe has an open discussion with her highlighting he would never authorise what she did based on what was available so there is the suggestion that Kramer has let her pursuit of Frost become personal and it’s clouding her objectivity. The same is suggested of Joe who has his perception coloured by what he knows about Caitlin and Frost. Kramer calls him out on that and extra weight is added because the audience perception is also coloured by knowledge so it’s really impossible to know what Joe would do if he wasn’t in the know as to the truth of the situation. It’s an interesting problem as Kramer can only go by what information she comes across so in many ways she is doing the best she can with a very limited view of what is actually going on though she can still be a problem because she doesn’t respect protocol and possibly oversteps her position. It could be the beginning of a plot designed to tackle ethics in law enforcement or it might fall by the wayside. Kramer being impressed by the work Barry does as a CSI might be setting up him having difficulties hiding that he is the Flash around her so there are signs that point to her having a place within the show.

Flash

Time to talk this out

Nora moving in with Barry and Iris is predictably problematic for Barry because having someone who looks exactly like his mother but isn’t her obviously isn’t easy for him to deal with. Adding to that is Iris casually calling her Nora therefore intensifying Barry’s discomfort. Nora overcompensates for this tension by trying to be too helpful and constantly reiterating their connection to him. Since she is the Speed Force she is the source of his power and keeps offering to be on hand to give him a power boost whenever he needs it. This means that she shows up when Barry doesn’t want her to and her presence keeps causing his powers to glitch which almost gets him caught by Kristen Kramer and later results in the loss of data that could lead to proving Frost’s innocence. On the surface it’s a standard narrative built around someone trying to be helpful and getting in the way but beneath that it revisits Barry’s forever unresolved feelings of loss around his mother. The Speed Force has entered his life looking and sounding exactly like his mother and that’s something he finds very difficult to reconcile. To a point he is able to accept that the Speed Force has chosen that form but kept her at a distance until now so having her in his home intensifies the difficulties he experiences even looking at her.

Iris eventually comes to understand how difficult it is for Barry after he admits that he shouldn’t be so hostile to her. His admission comes with the realisation that he doesn’t understand why he feels that way which prompts Iris to recall the time she returned home from college and found that she was butting heads with Joe. This happened because she returned from college an adult with her own routine cultivated after an extended period of living alone just as Joe’s routine had shifted by not having her around. This situation is comparable because of the parental nature of Nora and Barry’s relationship with her being the source of his powers. Prior to this point there was always that distance between them without any direct interaction so now that the Speed Force is part of his life in such a tangible way their rhythms are out of alignment creating this friction between them. This friction causes her to overcompensate while Barry instinctively pulls away because he is used to that distance as well as having accepted that his mother is dead so for him it’s difficult on multiple levels. Having this lack of cohesion manifest through Barry’s powers glitching very much ties his abilities to his emotional state while highlighting that Nora’s emotional state is causing her to lack the necessary focus to prevent this from happening. For stability to resume they both have to understand where the problem lies and by the end of the episode they reach an understanding that allows them to be united enough for the glitching to stop. It’s a really interesting and complicated dynamic that plays out really well.

Added to that is the fact that Nora is evolving beyond simply being a force of nature. Iris observes that there is a person emerging within that due to the influence of those she is spending time with. Nora’s alignment is to the “good” side along with the rest of Team Flash though beyond that it’s not clear what will actually result from her becoming more Human following spending time with the team. It’s possible that the rest of the forces will also find their own sense of identity as they interact with the world around them. On a personal character development level this plot works really well but it’s vague as to what the wider implications of these developments are.

Flash

Now that I’ve explained my backstory…


Verdict

An uneven episode that fails to capitalise on the potential of the main Frost plot but excels in Barry’s reaction to the Speed Force being an active presence in his life. Picking up the thread of Frost being a reformed criminal is in theory a good idea as it presents an opportunity for her to atone for past mistakes in a very public way while also putting her newfound life under threat but in practice it amounts to a collection of scenes that have her track down a villain who delivers clunky exposition before being defeated. Some things do work such as her decision to turn herself in being motivated by a desire to answer for her mistakes as well as protect Caitlin after she stands accused of being Killer Frost. Bringing in Kristen Kramer provides an opportunity to explore the ethics of law enforcement when Joe takes exception to her methods. She calls him out on his connection to Caitlin while bringing up the idea of Joe’s perception being coloured by knowing all the facts while Kramer is only going by what limited information she has. It’s a potentially compelling story that could be explored in subsequent episodes.

Nora moving in with Barry and Iris raises some interesting problems connected to Barry’s discomfort around the form she has assumed. No longer having that distance from the Speed Force distracts him and causes him to be increasingly hostile to her. Nora overcompensates for this friction and their shared inability to address this causes his powers to glitch. Once they reach an understanding that stops but it takes Barry being able to accept that she is going to be a presence in his life for them to clear the air while she recognises that she needs to stop trying so hard. It’s a really interesting and complex dynamic that plays out really well. The suggestion that the Speed Force is evolving has a lot of potential and could inform the other forces in some way once that plot picks up again.

Overall
  • 7/10
    Growing Pains - 7/10
7/10

Summary

Kneel Before…

  • the complex friction created between Barry and Nora
  • Nora’s overcompensating and Barry’s hostility towards her continually coming into play
  • the understanding the eventually reach
  • Frost’s decision to answer for her previous crimes and atone for them
  • conflict between Kristen Kramer and Joe built around the ethics of law enforcement
  • Joe’s perception of the situation being coloured by him knowing all the facts contrasting Kramer only going by the information she has

 

Rise Against…

  • Frost’s plot playing out in predictable and uninteresting ways
  • clunky exposition from Chillblaine
  • Chillblaine being an underwhelming villain

 

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User Review
8.75/10 (2 votes)

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